Howard Joffe
Eva Paalma

Women's Tennis: Aggies beat #9 Alabama, 4-3, in 5-hour marathon

March 22, 2015

COLLEGE STATION - After a rocky start to the 2015 season, the Texas A&M women's team has finally hit its stride.

With wins over #6 Baylor and Auburn already this weekend, the girls looked to cap off spring break with another victory over a top-10 opponent. In a 5-hour slugfest, Texas A&M defeated the reigning SEC champions, #9 Alabama, 4-3.

It wasn't easy.

The Crimson Tide jumped all over Texas A&M during the doubles matches. Erin Routliffe and Maya Jansen, the #9 pair in the nation, took down #29 Stefania Hristov and Ines Deheza effortlessly on court one, 8-2.

Not long after that, Danielle Spielmann and Luicelena Perez beat Saska Gavrilovska and Rutuja Bhosale 8-2 in a quick match of their own, and the juggernaut from Tuscaloosa had an early 1-0 lead.

The Tide didn't keep the Aggies down for long, however. On court four, Bhosale came up with the home team's first point of the day. She easily dispatched her opponent, #57 Natalia Maynetto, 6-2, 6-1.

Minutes later, Stefania Hristov, playing in the 6-spot for the Ags, finished off Luicelena Perez 6-4, 6-1, and put Texas A&M up 2-1.

The lead wouldn't last. Ines Deheza, playing on court two for the Aggies, lost 6-4, 6-3, to #54 Danielle Spielmann, evening the match at two points apiece. From there, each team needed to win two of the last three points.

Of those, Rachel Pierson was the first to provide one for her team. After coming back from two breaks down in the first set, she defeated #26 Erin Routliffe 7-6, 6-3 and put Texas A&M up 3-2.

Next, Saska Gavrilovska was looked to close out the match for the Aggies on court three. After dropping her first set, she came back to even the match in set two. Gavrilovska kept the third set close for a little bit, but eventually fell 2-6, 6-4, 3-6.

It all came down to the match on court five.

In a marathon of a match, Aggie freshman Eva Paalma and Alabama's Emily Zabor battled through three hard-fought sets. After splitting tiebreaks in the first two sets, Paalma and Zabor were the only match left when the pivotal third began.

Though she dropped serve three times in the final frame, Paalma kept fighting back. With her parents in attendance the newcomer pulled out a 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, victory almost five hours after the beginning of the doubles matches.

Paalma handled the pressure wonderfully and just told herself to play her game.

"There was so much pressure. (It was) my first time being in a situation like this," she said. "There was nothing to do. I knew that I (had) to play, because if I'm just pushing, then she's going to win. I have to dictate the game, and if I lose, then I lose. But at least I did something."

Head Coach Howard Joffe was elated with the win, calling it the closest match he can remember coaching.

"Obviously, everyone's nerves have been through -- what is it now? Five-odd hours of tension?" he said. "The line (was) so close between winning and losing the match. So, one can't help but be super-duper excited."

The Aggies will hit the courts again on Tuesday at 2:00 PM, taking on #2 Florida in College Station.
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Women's Tennis: Aggies beat #9 Alabama, 4-3, in 5-hour marathon

5,410 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 5 yr ago by bigfoot10s
Chase McGuire
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Women's Tennis: Aggies beat #9 Alabama, 4-3, in 5-hour marathon
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Why aren't we ranked?
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We are ranked, just not very high. Rankings are by computers, and until now, our opponents haven't been very highly ranked. That will change soon.
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Currently 30. That will go up a bit before #2 Florida comes on Tuesday.
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